The Minnesota Vikings have won each of the last three head-to-head games against the Arizona Cardinals, but this is not the Cardinals of years past. Yes, the Vikings are an improved team, but they have shown much vulnerability, specifically in losses to the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. They still have much to prove, and much to lose, including the NFC North title and a potential playoff spot. Minnesota will have to find a way to get the ball in the hands of Adrian Peterson more than eight times, which was his total in the loss to Seattle when he rushed for a measly 18 yards.
The Cardinals, with the league’s top-ranked offense, will create all sorts of trouble for the Vikings. Quarterback Carson Palmer is 267 of 418 on the year with 29 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Running back Chris Johnson now has 814 yards on the ground, and receiver Larry Fitzgerald has 1,047 in the air. And we haven’t even talked about defense.
It’s not going to be pretty for the Vikings. Cardinals will be singing.
Getting excited about two teams with 4-8 records can be a challenge, and this game certainly fits the bill. Even so, these two Midwestern teams have had a few shining moments this year. A few.
The Lions are all alone at the bottom of the NFC North division. Quarterback Matt Stafford’s numbers have been OK with 289 of 445 with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but the overall offense is ranked 21st in the league. Why? The rushing game is ranked 31st. Ouch.
The Rams have the exact opposite problems. The team is ranked 10th in rushing behind the stellar Todd Gurley but is 32nd in passing, creating a challenge for any come-from-behind efforts that would be led by quarterback Nick Foles.
And come from behind they will have to do. It won’t happen. Lions will roar in St. Louis.
Regardless of the year or the records, any game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers is entertaining. In recent years, the outcome has been consistent, with the Packers taking the past three. Expect more of the same on the frozen tundra.
The sputtering offense of the Cowboys will continue to sputter, regardless of who is leading the offense. With quarterback Tony Romo out for the season, Matt Cassel will take snaps again. Their stats are quite similar, and neither can provide the spark the Cowboys need to turn the season around. The only saving grace for Dallas is its defense, and those guys will need to step up in a big way to fend off a Packers team that has much to prove.
Once again perched at the top of the NFC North, the Packers have to decide which team will show up. Will it be the one that pounced the Minnesota Vikings in week 11, or the one that fell to the lowly Chicago Bears at home in week 12? If quarterback Aaron Rodgers gets hot, look out. Expect him to be steaming. The Pack will be back, and America’s Team will continue to crumble. CV